Critical Summary of Ariel

Critical Summary of Ariel, a poem by Sylvia Plath, a confessional and autobiographical poetess. Hence, we know her for her extremely subjective poetry. Most of her poems focus the fears and psychological problems she has had. “Ariel” is one of her posthumous poems. This is a complicated poem rich in imagery and meaning. In ‘Ariel’, the experience of riding a horse becomes a metaphor for the process of writing a poem… “Plath’s attainment of poetic mastery”. “Ariel” draws its own myth of transcendence through the ecstasy of physical motion; we can see it as an ecstasy which is transitory and self-destructive.

The poem is highly metaphorical because “Ariel” is the name of her favourite horse; it can be the “Ariel” in Shakespeare’s “Tempest” with aerial powers beyond human imagination. Ariel” in Hebrew means “lion of God.” The poem moves from “Stasis in darkness” to the “cauldron of morning”. It is the journey from scratch to accomplishment; a ride into the eye of the sun, a journey to death, a stripping of personality and self-hood. Like her other poems, she puts down her grievances and resentment for her family and friends as well as society at large.

Ariel is in a state of inaction. There is complete darkness, an image for hopelessness. Sylvia Plath visually creates an altar “pour of tor”, probably, there for her crucifixion. She is “God’s lioness” all ready to surge forward passionately. She and the “Ariel” are unified. They are moving forward making their way through soft and hard soil. Hence, she finds it difficult to hold onto the neck of the fast moving horse. It seems like, proposed favours and incidents of past have cast much gloom over her but she has resolved to shake them off.

The poetess has freed herself like “Godiva” who rode “naked on a horse” so that her husband would reduce taxes on the public. She is tired of the “dead stringencies” and limitations; these her life has brought to her. Plath is in a state of ecstasy and pleasure; therefore, she foams creating a “glitter of seas”. She is unable to decide whether she is an arrow which is to kill or dew that is to be killed. However, she is expecting to reach the destination i.e. light in “red” or perhaps “death” in the “red”.

Read More to the Critical Summary of Ariel:

  1. MA English Syllabus
  2. MA English Notes
  3. John Donne as a Metaphysical Poet
  4. John Keats’ Romantic Poetry
  5. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  6. John Keats as a Romantic Poet
  7. Negative Capability of John Keats
  8. Ode to Grecian Urn
  9. Ode to Autumn
  10. Rime of Ancient Mariner – Analysis
  11. Rime of Ancient Mariner – Text

Further Reading for the Poem Ariel and Critical Summary of Ariel:

Text of the Poem Ariel